The summer basketball league is off and running and for the first time one of my children is no longer a player, she is now a coach.
An ordinary request to volunteer, some emails, roster lists and shirt deliveries did not in any way alert me to the proud moment that would soon follow.
As we jumped in the car to head to the courts for the first game, my daughter announced that she was nervous. Really, I thought? Coaching 4th and 5th grade girls summer basketball? Isn’t this a no brainer? Well no Mom, it is not, it is new and unfamiliar and without precedent in her short 15 years.
I try to be one of those prepared parents with words of wisdom, advice and sympathy as needed. On this short car ride to the courts I very quickly responded to her nervousness with “you have been coached nearly every day of your life, you know how to do this.” I glanced in her direction as I drove and noticed a slight nod of recognition. I searched my mind for what to say next.
You see, I love coaching. I am a better coach than I ever was a player. I believe in coaching and I think it is one of the most important relationships and experiences in any child’s life. Coaches have that ultimate privilege, by what they say and do, to write on the slate of a child, often indelibly.
As we pulled into the parking lot, I knew that I only had seconds to sum up what I think would be most important to help this new coach and to pass on the torch that I love. So, here were my words of wisdom, “Find the players that are clearly new to the game and make sure that they have a really good time.” She smiled at me with a look that said “really that is all there is to it?”
I sat on the hill as a spectator, not cheering for any particular team, but watching with tremendous pride at the clipboard carrying, animated, exuberant young lady as she coached her little team. Smiling, pointing, laughing, high-fiving, jumping up with arms extended at a great play…she was having a ball but more importantly so was her team.
When she bubbled back up to the car with that mixed combination of relief at fulfilling a new challenge and the happy satisfaction that she had done it well, she told me that the referee had stopped her at the end of the game to tell her how good she was at motivating and encouraging all of her players.
No trophy, or championship point, or accolade in her athletic career has made me as proud as I am tonight. I am happy to pass on the coaching torch to someone who has truly learned to love the game.
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